Palwal: Muslim man beaten to death, family alleges hate crime
Rahul Khan, 22, was allegedly beaten to death over stealing a phone from a friend. However, his family claims that a purported video of the incident shows the suspects beating him mercilessly, and alleged it to be a hate crime.
A 22-year-old Muslim man was allegedly beaten to death by his three friends over stealing a mobile phone of one of them in Palwal on December 15, even as the victim’s family have alleged that it was a communal hate crime, police said on Sunday.
The Palwal police had registered a case of death in an accident soon after the matter was reported to them, but later added charges under section of murder after the post-mortem examination showed severe injury marks, and after a video was posted on the social media that showed the three suspects beating the man.
All three suspects who the police identified as as Aakash alias Diljale, Vishal (who goes by single name), and Kalua -- all residents of Rasoolpur village in Palwal -- have been arrested, police said. They added that all suspects have been remanded into judicial custody.
Ram Chandar Jakhar, station house officer (SHO) of Chand Hut police station in Palwal, said on December 15, they received information that a man, Rahul Khan, has died in accident. “We registered a case under sections 279 (rash driving), and 304A (causing death by negligence) of Indian Penal Code. But, the post-mortem report revealed assault injuries, and the victim’s family approached us with a purported video of the incident. Following this, we converted it into a murder case, and started conducting raids to arrest suspects,” he said.
Jakhar said they have also recovered the mobile phone on which the purported video was shot. “Aakash had shot video and shared it on social media to prove that he was not involved in the case . He is apparently heard in the video, saying ‘Mat maro isko, jane do’(Don’t hit him, let him go). He thought it will help him escape the blame,” the SHO said.
Khan, a resident of Rasoolpur, nearly 16 kilometres from the Palwal city, worked as a daily wage labourer, his family members said. His wife, Saina, said Khan went to attend a wedding function with three of his friends on December 14. “Kalua called us around 6pm that Rahul has met with an accident near Nangal Road canal. An unidentified vehicle hit him, and fled. He said they were taking him to a hospital and asked us to reach there,” she said.
Saina said, before breathing his last in the hospital on December 15, Khan told her that five people, including Kalua, beat him with rods. She said they believed Kalua registered a case of accident to hide the crime. “On December 15, we received a video , in which Rahul can be seen pleading and being beaten mercilessly. The suspects were threatening him, and saying ‘Hum Hindu Hain Hindu, Tu Mulla Hai Mulla’ (We are Hindus, and you are a Muslim), she alleged.
SHO Jakhar said they were yet to confirm it was a communal angle to the crime. “We are investigating the case and the mobile phone has also been seized. We will sent it to the (forensic) lab. If it was a hate crime, we will add charges under the relevant sections of the law,” he said.
Police said Aakash, one of the suspects, has told them that he had shot the video, but did not assault Khan. “Kalua was agitated as Rahul had stolen his mobile phone, after drinking together at the wedding function. Kalua was enraged over this, and encouraged his friends to assault Rahul. They did not realise that he was severely injured and could die,” Jakhar said, quoting what Aakash said during the interrogation.
Razia, the sister of victim, alleged that her father retired from Indian Railways in April this year. She alleged that the suspects were pressuring Khan to give money to them from the retirement funds of his father. “They (the suspects) are drug addicts, and were demanding money from my brother. Last month, my brother gave them ₹2,000, but they were demanding ₹5,000 more,” she said.
The family claimed that Khan could never steal anything, and the suspects were cooking up the story to misleaded the police.
Chhedi Khan, the father of the deceased, said all the suspects were his son’s friends. “I moved to this village after my retirement. was posted in Ballabhgarh. My son hardly worked. Despite my repeated attempts, he did not give up their company,” he said.